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Liverpool have 'the Big Mo'

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Phil McNulty | 19:58 UK time, Sunday, 22 March 2009

Martin O'Neill is a noted criminologist who once used Leicester City's Stateside tour as an opportunity to study the scene of President Kennedy's assassination in Dallas.

So who better than O'Neill to sift through the clues and intrigue of the Premier League title campaign as Liverpool's push gained ominous momentum by thrashing his fading Aston Villa at Anfield?

O'Neill, normally a picture of hyperactive perpetual motion, looked drained by the harrowing experience as he assembled the various strands of what is becoming an increasingly complicated season finale.

He then made a somewhat unconvincing argument for Manchester United retaining their crown as he said: "I'd have to say the best manager in the world will not let a couple of defeats get under his skin."

O'Neill may well be right - but after a weekend that saw the champions demonstrate incompetence and ill-discipline in equal measure at Fulham, there is no doubt which team is currently being carried along with greater impetus.

In the space of eight days Liverpool have reduced United's lead to one point (having played a game more admittedly), overturned their vastly superior goal difference and suddenly applied huge pressure to a side that seemed to be sailing serenely to another title.

United still hold the upper hand, but as O'Neill said in his post-match debriefing with a whole truck load of understatement: "It will be tight. It is interesting again."

It was hard not to feel a measure of sympathy for O'Neill's own plight as Villa's bid to muscle in on the top-four action is being fatally undermined by tired legs and the greater squad strength of his rivals for a place in that elite group.

Martin O'Neill (front) and Rafa Benitez

He sat with glasses off and rubbing slowly at his temples before summoning up some defiance about the remainder of Villa's season - but the game looks to be up as far as the Champions League is concerned.

O'Neill may do things differently if he had his time again. Would he have signed more players than just Emile Heskey in January? Should he have played a stronger team in the Uefa Cup - especially as a return to that competition in its new guise looks like it will be their reward for another season of progress?

Liverpool, in contrast, have - in the words of another former American president George Bush senior - "The Big Mo". Momentum. Lots of it.

Not that Rafael Benitez looked like a man with momentum. He looked like a man with the hump as he moaned about Liverpool's failure to improve their goal difference by an even greater margin.

"It is really important we take our chances. You know what can happen with goal difference. We were playing against 10 players. We had three or four chances to do better. I wanted more goals. Don't get me wrong..."

Not an easy man to please Mr Benitez. Once he removes his perfectionist mindset, however, he may join the rest of Anfield in sensing we may be on the point of a pivotal twist in the title race.

United, so unflappable for so long, showed vital signs of stress at Fulham. Cristiano Ronaldo's petulance and posturing is wearing thin even among his own fans and Wayne Rooney's hair-trigger temper can lead him into the sort of dark places we saw him occupy at Craven Cottage.

It would take a brave man to bet against United - and I am not that man. United have been too good this season not to recover from recent setbacks and it would be disrespectful to suggest two defeats amount to a meltdown.

Ferguson and his players have run this particular course several times, but pressure can do strange things and United looked under strain at Fulham.

One thing is certain - those of us who thought the title race was over after Liverpool lost to Middlesbrough (guilty as charged) must now think again.

Real Madrid, Manchester United and now Villa have been simply swept aside. Liverpool's fans, resigned to another title failure only a fortnight ago, suddenly appeared driven by the same sense of renewed optimism and hope as their team at Anfield on Sunday.

And there was almost a hidden significance in the manner of Liverpool's victory. It was achieved without any serious contribution from Fernando Torres, earning a second-half penalty apart. Indeed, the great man was almost off-colour by his own standards.

It did not matter. Steven Gerrard can always be relied upon, the presence of Xabi Alonso and Javier Mascherano allowing him to occupy that dangerous free space in and around Torres.

Liverpool have missed opportunities at home before this season. And how they will regret those home draws against Stoke, Fulham, West Ham and Manchester City if they fail to claw back United's slender advantage.

But, seeing the door left ajar by defeats for United and Chelsea, they made no mistake, barging through to establish themselves as a serious threat to the champions.

It may still be too late. United's outstanding squad may still gather themselves and go on to title glory.

But after another perfect weekend for Liverpool, the expectation and anticipation rolled around Anfield at the conclusion of another powerful statement of title intent.


Page 1 of 3

  • Comment number 1.

    Missing: 7 point lead and +11 goal difference advantage. Last seen 8 days ago.

    If found please return to A Ferguson, Old Trafford, Manchester.

  • Comment number 2.

    interesting expression that one: "having played a game more, admittedly". seem to have heard that quite a lot in the past week or so.

    "the game in hand being at home to Portsmouth admittedly" is not nearly such a popular expression.

    United's first 20mins at Fulham looked like it normally does down there - including the 4-0 game the other week. the difference this time was that it climaxed not with United taking control but with them going down to 10 and falling behind to a penalty

    Ronaldo's petulance seems to grow with the stud marks on his legs as well, which is really strange. stud marks that even Match of the Day didn't bother editing out, which was arguably even stranger

    didn't watch the Liverpool against Villa game today but 5-0 is a very impressive scoreline. by all accounts, I'd expect Friedel's red card to be revoked in time for the United game.

  • Comment number 3.

    United dont even have to lose another game, a couple of draws will see us pass them as long as we keep winning. The key is going to be whether United can field the team that they actually want to, with so many red cards taking players out of future games. The loss of Vidic is massive as we saw at Fulham, and it does show how much Liverpool overwhelmed United when they pressed them hard at the back. The defence that set a new premier league record for clean sheets made uncharacteristic errors, but was that was down to Liverpool's new found sense of urgency and the constant pressuring of teams further up the field? Liverpool will scrape home and finally end their long wait for the title as United throw it away.

  • Comment number 4.

    At the very least, it keeps things a lot more fun in the run-in. Man Utd still have to be favourites but it has been a lousy and out-of-character week for them.

    Also from the point of view of an Arsenal fan, the result sees our three point lead over them cemented and it's been quite the turnaround there. The manner of the loss has to be demoralizing too. It's well worth pointing out though that Arsenal themselves have some tough games to come and I wouldn't consider three points enough of a buffer at the moment.

    However, Villa-Man Utd is win-win. Either Villa go down to another defeat and really put the ball in our court, or stir themselves to get a point or three and the title race becomes well and truly on.

    It's all for the good, keeps it all exciting...

  • Comment number 5.

    It's too close to call, but at least Liverpool will make Utd worry. It's squeaky bum time again and LFC have got nothing to lose.

  • Comment number 6.

    I would have to take a BIG negative note against you here, Phil. I don't see anything wrong with MO's statement "I'd have to say the best manager in the world will not let a couple of defeats get under his skin." Well, you have also been making similar statements as recently as two months ago. I don't see any contradiction of this statement with the pre-match press conference. It's just that MO thinks the title race is getting really interesting but that the issue doesn't get under Fergie's skin. I am sure honest Liverpool fan's wouldn't argue against.

    I applaud Liverpool for their past 3 games. scoring 13 against Madrid, Man U and a decent Villa side is something to be proud of! Nonetheless, you would be berating Benitez if they get a couple of bad results. Please don't be a feather moving in the direction the wind blows!!!!

  • Comment number 7.

    Probably a realistic assessment Phil because of two reasons. First, the International break next week slows Liverpool's momentum down and gives Taggart time to regroup. The liverpool players would probably want to play their next game tomorrow the way things have gone over the last 11 days. Secondly, Internationals at this time of the season are an injury lottery. Mark my words, one of the top three are going to lose a top player or two, injured when they are over.
    Its how they adapt and the affect it has on morale. United do have the additional concern over supensions to three players but the irony is Villa have lost Friedel at Old Trafford due to Torres's speed and that is a big loss to them. Thought he was unlucky to get a red today, it was a pen, end of. Referees need to be given the power back to make their own judgements using common sense, fans don't pay £40 plus to see players sent off, they want to see them perform.
    The 3 dismissals in the last 24 hours could have an important part to play in the title race but you have to be honest and say, despite Liverpool's resurgance since Middlesbrough, I'd take United's position every time.
    Rafa should tie Torres to his bed this week and send Spain a sick note given his record this season on International duty. Hope I'm not temting providence.

  • Comment number 8.

    Having thought we'd blown it, since the Real game, everything has gone like I'd written it as a fantasy and it came true. The fantastic way we destroyed Real, United and now Villa has been breathtaking. What's been really great is the attacking way we've played, in a way I haven't seen us play since the the late 80's.
    All I can hope is that we really go for it and if Utd still win then we've had a go. Last thing is when Gerrard scored against Olympiakos I thought our name was on the cup, after this weekend I'm having the same feeling about the league. YNWA.

  • Comment number 9.

    another serious statement of intent, n proof no less, for me atleast, regardless of the outcome at the end of the season, that liverpool under rafa, are progressing, and are capable of winning this league.

    I can see liverpool winning all their remaining games, we have been here before with regards to a run at the end of the season, n usually we have had too much to do to have a serious effect on the title destination, united on the other hand are wobbling, even with experience, complacency and possible tired limbs (the price of previous season success? for me that cannot b an excuse, thats what the teams are supposed to do, n with all the "massive squad edpth" this united teams famed for, that really shouldnt b an issue!) i can c united not loosing, i DID NOT think for 1 second united would drop points to fulham, thats just a massive bonus, but the games i have marked down as potential dropped points for them are arsenal, the derby against city n maybe villa (based on todays non show tho i may have to revise that 1, i will add tho, that i though MON would have reverted bk to the formation that worked so weel this season, heskey, as maybe robbie keane did, has disrupted what clearly worked like a charm, ie, carew lone up front n agbonlahor n young supporting from wide, the former having a great season from there, now the villa fans (a fickle bunch if u ask me, the booing of gabriel is shocking considering he is a major reason they have been flying so high this season, n if they dont appreciate him, i can tell them now, we'll have him, works well on the wing, is quick n has an eye for goal, while we are at it, lets make a move for ashley young, he'll blossom at liverpool, with all respect to villa that is) and i thought he may address that, being the master tactician that he is, but he played straight into liverpools hands not changing it up, i do however think he should change it against united, and if he does will give them a much sterner test).

    all in all, i think united could bottle it now, playing villa who will real froma total thumping this afternoon, and altho having fredal missing, united will b without atleast 3 major players, clearly vidic being the most influential, like i have said after last weeks win against united, if united have a bad day coz vidic is having a bad day, then how would they cope without him, on current evidence, not very well.

  • Comment number 10.

    You are too easily swayed Phil

    first you thought it was in the bag, now Liverpool are huge threats

    I will remain cynical until Liverpool finally have their hands on that trophy - it seemed pretty clear Liverpool could beat United, and without Vidic up against Fulham I expected a slip up (albeit a draw) - United were never going to keep the winning streak til the end, and will probably drop enough points to give Liverpool an opening

    But - Liverpool must keep that run up, they cannot drop anything and that is a big ask - Liverpool are in fact probably a better bet against the 'good' teams like United and Villa than they are against the likes of West Ham, Fulham and Blackburn, and anything can happen when spurs visit - there is plenty of potential for Liverpool to commit past sins

    I'm not counting any chickens just yet, let's just hope Villa will have an easier time at OT with no Vidic, Rooney or Berbatov

    at least it;s entertaining

  • Comment number 11.

    Is the moderator on the ale again?

  • Comment number 12.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 13.

    This is all true..Initially I was doubting Rafa,but now i have a change of heart,considering what happen the past 2 weeks and taking a look at his statistics...It took Rafa 30 less games to win 100 premiership games than SAF.Also Rafa won the champions league in his 1st season at liverpool whereas it took SAF over 10years to accomplish that feat,and i truly believe that RAFA will win the Premiership before his 7th year at the helm,even if he could not win it this year. In addition Rafa heaped the biggest defeat against MANU at a time when according to SAF he had his best crop of players during his 20year reign You can read through the lines that Rafa present and clear a present danger to SAF dominance of the Premiership.When Rafa signed his contract extension SAF reaction was that Rafa will go on a spending spree.This just tells you how worried SAF is at the moment.Rafa was able to find the formula of how to outplay Manu.Lo and behold,he did find it.After the liverpool 4-1,everybody thought that Manu will bounce back for the next game,but that did not happen Fulham defeated Manu again.It will be very interesting to see what happens in the coming weeks.Fingers crossed.

  • Comment number 14.

    great blog phil, no doubt you will be inundated with negative remarks about 'another liverpool blog' but we are making all the headlines at the minute so fair do's. to be honest when we lost to boro i let my belief in the squads ability to challenge falter and although i remained hopeful i was not expectant. then we steam roll the champions of europe and england as well as hitting the spanish champions for five! add to that the performance against villa and i am excited again. i truly believe this can be our year now and how sweet would it be...... YNWA :)

  • Comment number 15.

    BBC Governors want to know why only the "big 4" are talked about by BBC journalists, and why Mr McNulty only goes to Anfield.

  • Comment number 16.

    Benitez has probably taken it for granted that United will beat Portsmouth, no disrespect to Portsmouth which will put United 4 points clear. Utd still need to lose once and draw once for lverpool to be ahead, or for utd to draw twice. This taking for granted that Liverpool keep winning with no slip ups which is by no means certain.

    Liverpool can do it but the ball is very much in utd's court, if they get it together, its in the bag for them. The international break may disrupt liverpool's 'momentum' so to speak, it will be interesting

  • Comment number 17.

    The way how Liverpool have played in the past three games has been a bit deceptive. What I mean by that is that there has been very little organisation coupled by a few individual errors by the sides that Pool have beaten, but then that isn't their fault as they can only beat whats in front of them. They have taken their chances (quite ruthlessly) and that's what good teams do.

    Pool have stepped it up recently, but the real acid test will come when they play an average side that is hell bent on parking the bus (a tactic that should be banned IMO, but then how do you enforce it and decide what team has or hasn't).

    Phil, and other posters what do you think the final points tallies will be for Man Utd and Liverpool? I have Man Utd edging it by a single point on 86. I have Chelsea down for 75 as they'll be concentrating on the Champions League.

    On a side note its amazing how much Arsenal are going to have a say in the title race without actually being in the title race. No doubt they'll see those games against the other big 3 as a barometer of how well they'll do next season.

  • Comment number 18.

    The momentum is with Liverpool. United has been lucky winning by slim margins this season, similarly like Chelsea last season. United now need a strong leader to keep the team together. The fact that Rio, Neville and Giggs are being rotated, feels there is a gulf missing in leadership. Prior to this, Keane's leadership was unquestionable. He would have taken Rooney and Ronaldo under his iron clad fist and had them behaving like men and not spoilt brats. The other issue is that with United's fading spirit and Liverpool's strong resurgence, will now be can Ferguson recover the team and get them moving and playing Man United and not themselves. One can only hope.....

  • Comment number 19.

    The voices from the Kop today brought back many memories. I haven't heard such since the last time we won the English championship.

  • Comment number 20.

    would liverpool now concentrate on the league more than the CL?

    rafa afterall will be judged on his time here on premiership winners medals, not CL winners medals. he knows that, n maybe subconsiously he will pay more attention to that. n with the teams around them directly, playing CL football, i think he may tend to rest against chelsea say, not massively, but maybe throw a few players out of left-field to cover rested players for the league. i think the squad, to an extent can absolutly handle it, even going as far as leaving torres or gerrard (not both i hasten to add) out of home tie in the CL.

    if united wer to drop some more points on sunday, i think benitez may find himself pondering that situation, if he hasnt already.

  • Comment number 21.

    Jumping on the bandwagon???
    if teams lose criticize like anything (without even giving them a chance), if they win make them heroes...

    What is the actual analysis apart from what we can see in the points table???

  • Comment number 22.

    Phil, you are starting to sound like a believer! I think your perspective is spot on. Both Liverpool and United so far this season have averaged a little over two points per game. United slightly more than Liverpool obviuosly, but not much. Now the run-in is going to be different, but there is no question that BOTH teams will drop points, unless they can perform at a massively different tilt than the season so far.
    I do have a question for you Phil. earlier this year Benitez, famously went on a rant about Ferguson, and it was charactersed widely as a meltdown. That Ferguson had won yet more mindgames, and that Rafa had unnecessarily put himslef on the backfoot. In the past few days, Ferguson has made this comment- "real football fans get excited when their team scores a goal", a clear reference to Benitez's demeanour on the touchline. And a couple of days ago he pronounced that his strategy for teambuilding has been bringing homegrown talent in and not buying players, completely at odds with reality, (unless we cast our minds back to the "you wont win anything with kids" era). He said this while announcing that Benitez would be on a buying spree this summer. Something Alex would never do, right! Would you say that this is evidence of a Ferguson meltdown? I wonder why his comments arent given the level of scrutiny that Benitez were?

  • Comment number 23.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 24.

    United need to stop mucking about and get their act together. Talk about pushing the self-destruct button. I'd imagine we could deal with the loss of Vidic, Scholes and Berbatov but losing Rooney is a big blow as he's simply irreplacble. However if anyone can turn this rotten week around, Fergie can and I'm confident that he'll do just that.

  • Comment number 25.

    Poster 22,

    You're deluded just like your manager. How many times has Benitez made a clown out of himself infront of the press? From repeating "I'm focussed on coaching and training my team" a dozen times, to blaming "crazy" forces after the draw against Wigan, to that bizarre and totally unnecessary rant on Ferguson. Rafa's excuse for that attack was that he had to "defend his club". I'm sorry, but when was your club attacked? Atleast Fergie had the dignity not to respond in kind, eventhough I wish he had. It would be a travesty if a clown like Benitez ended up with a league title after all his antics this season.

  • Comment number 26.

    How many times have you blogged on Liverpool in the last ten days, Mr. McNulty? Your love-in with them is becoming sickening. Ease off ...

  • Comment number 27.

    The last two games for United have been a disaster, but watching the Fulham game, I couldn't see why he had rotated the team (obviously Evans for Vidic)
    This was exactly the game for Carrick and Anderson to prove they can boss the midfield, and to rebuild their obviously shattered confidence.

    The descision to play Scholes cost us dear...
    I am so proud of what Scholsey had done for our club over the last ten years, but quite frankly, he's past it in the modern game... he should have been sent of after 35 seconds for a foul from behind, and if it had happened ten minutes later he would have been.

    There is no point in saving our best eleven for the big games if we lose to teams like Fulham; we only have seven league games left, and another defeat (Arsenal again?) would leave us with only a minimal margin for error.

    Unless Fergie gets this mess sorted, we're going to start the season with
    "Champions of the world and the Carling cup holders" being bellowed out as our team run out!

  • Comment number 28.

    NINE not seven!

  • Comment number 29.

    "What a difference a day makes...", well 8 days more accurately. To give Man Utd a run for their money was something I hoped and believed we could do if we beat them last week. The emphatic manner of the change in fortunes is something that few if any could have predicted.
    I am also glad to witness the change of tone in the media, who were generally refering to Utd as 'unstoppable' and saying things like 'who could question Sir Alex Ferguson' and talking about them winning 5 trophies, as if it were a foregone conclusion.
    Still, they remain top of the league and still in the 2 cups that have any value (alright the League Cup might be worth something but the Club World Cup is a Micky Mouse marketing affair).
    However the unflappable are flapping, and Ferguson's comment about 'bottling it' just may come back to haunt him...
    Game on!

  • Comment number 30.

    “Liverpool's fans, resigned to another title failure only a fortnight ago”

    No Phil, that’s what you were telling us. Most of us still believed we might, possibly; albeit with a modicum of luck and a following wind.

    “United have been too good this season not to recover from recent setbacks”

    That’s a bit rich considering after their 4-1 home defeat against Liverpool, they imploded against Fulham.

    “He (O’Neil) then made a somewhat unconvincing argument for Manchester United”

    Considering the previous public melt down he had in the summer about Gareth Barry and all things Liverpool I’d say that I wasn’t surprised that he wouldn’t tip Liverpool.

  • Comment number 31.

    @25. At 05:42am on 23 Mar 2009, poltergeist23

    You're deluded just like your manager. How many times has Ferguson made a clown out of himself in front of the press repeating through a third party that “We were the better side during our pitiful loss”.
    It would be a travesty if a clown like Ferguson ended up with a league title after all his antics this season, berating referees, dignifying the disrespect of referees by his players and hiding from the media when things didn’t go Utd’s way.

  • Comment number 32.

    Its not over. Just 2 weeks ago ManU was leading by 7 points and 1 game oustanding, but now only 1. Its tight, but now ManU cannot stand the pressure of being at the top. Any team with quite strikers would beat Manu. It showed against Liverpool when Vidic remembers his days when he was a rugby player. Rio is not very fast at running, but can read the game well. If Liverpool wins all 8 games and ManU draw only 2 the cup would be at Anfield. ManU has to play a wounded Villa who are battling 4 place with Arsenal who still have visit Old Trafford. I tip Arsneal to win. Even if Arsenal draw at Anfield and Liverpool wins 7 games it would still Liverpool's cup. Its now up to Rafa to play its best squad all the way. If he confines Lucas, Ngog and El Zhar on the bench, KOP would have the last laugh. now LIverpool cause the day that they drew against Hull, Stoke, Everton and Fulham at Anfield.

  • Comment number 33.

    United I think have blown their season away in two shoddy performances. I can't see them doing anything but crash and burn given the way they are playing and fixtures coming up. They could even finish 3rd or 4th.

  • Comment number 34.

    if liverpool are to win the title by winning all their games, that would be 11 straight victories beating United, Villa, Arsenal and Totenham. At the end of a long season that would be an incredible feat and i for one would take my hat of to them as worthy champions.

    Do i think it will happen? No

  • Comment number 35.

    To tarquin...I am not easily swayed. I state quite clearly that it would be disrespectful to dismiss United off the back of two defeats and that they still hold the upper hand, but the events of the last week cannot be ignored.

    I admit in the blog that I was wrong to think Liverpool's title bid was over after their defeat at Middlesbrough, but plenty can join me in that particular club.

    Liverpool have brought the title alive in the space of a week - and any United fan who does not think they are a threat is kidding themselves.

  • Comment number 36.

    I went out last thursday for a drink with a liverpool fan and he said he had been to a "spiritulist" who told him that Liverpool would win the league.... I laughed out load and told him he had lost the plot!

    I still think the title is Uniteds - but I have to admit however that Liverpool are atleast giving it a go - something that a couple of weeks ago looked like a laughavble concept in its own right.

    And credit where credit is due - Liverpool have pretty much been faultless the last 3 games... I guess Rafas challenge will always be to show that level of quality over more than just a "hot patch" of form...

    As an aside....Did anyone else think the Rooney sending off was a bit harsh?

  • Comment number 37.

    It's not a case of wether "the best manager in the world" will let it get under his skin... it's all about the players.

    Rooney: Bad tempered, undisciplined and potentially more harmful to his teams chances. The trouble is, who do you replace him with?

    Berbatov: Lazy. Flashes of brilliance, but otherwise just doesn't contribute anything to a team performance.

    Ronaldo: Not a striker. No matter how good you consider him to be, he's a right winger. His biggest problem is believing that every time he goes down he should get a free kick, which he will line up for like Johnny Wilkinson. If the first couple of descisions don't go his way, and at this point in the season and with his reputation (deserved or not) for diving they're getting less likely, his attitude is that the Ref's got it in for him personally.

    Tevez: Arguably the player with the best attitude and best equipped to deal with the pressure when things start to look wobbly. Unfortunately he's already half way out the door and is, mentally, waiting for the cab to come pick him up.

    As for "leaders on the field" United just have too many of them. Who's the Captain? Neville? Ferdinand? Giggs? Whoever wears the armband, and a lot of players at United have, they don't seem to believe it has anything to do with leading by example. It serves them only as a shield from behind which they're entitled to get in the Ref's face with impunity when a descision has not gone their way.

  • Comment number 38.

    Has a team going into the final stages of the season with so much momentum actual blown it.
    Can liverpool turn the screw next weekend and go top again

  • Comment number 39.

    Lets just say liverpool are doing all the right things at the right time were as united are doing the oppposite I still feel united will win the PL but liverpool will have them looking over there shoulder now and till the end of the season fingers crossed for Rafas boys

  • Comment number 40.

    I have just listenend to Paddy Crerand on another radio "talk" station..and he was all over the place spouting out Liverpool only have 2 players etc etc, even had a pop at Scottish Football too!! Its great Man U are rattled and are nervous. Yes the title is still in their hands but now they have to race for it rather casually stroll up and take it. Liverpool have the momentum now and i think we can win the last 8 games, Man U are like a boxer who is winning the fight and now they have been dropped in the last 2 rounds and now they are hanging on hoping to get to the end.

    BTW If Liverpool only have "2 players" than surely they are the greatest team of all time or the so called best league in the world is the worst league if a team with 2 players in it can challenge for a title...

  • Comment number 41.

    Mmmh, the "Big Mo'", huh?

  • Comment number 42.

    Mr.McNulty I will go back to your previous blog ("Ferguson the winner in CL draw"), I will bypass all your other comments and I will concentrate on this particular one:

    "In Fernando Torres they have arguably the world's finest striker"

    Excuse me, who says that? Explain, is that your personal opinion, the opinion of Liverpool fans, the view of the English media? Or the English football fans in general, who are possibly the most naive, uneducated and self-centered in the world? Your 'easy' target audience of predominantly Sun and NOTW readers? How is this opinion documented, and at the end of the day what is it worth?

    A striker is mainly judged on goals scored as this is his main role. Torres has scored 11 goals in 28 games this season in all competitions. 1 in 7 in Europe where it matters most. In which dictionary is the above rate worthy of the "best striker in the world" accolade? And he plays for just about the top side in the league, which means best service and most attacking play. As the tip of the arrow in their formation may I add. Even Liverpool fans have regularly been very annoyed with several of his performances when he was isolated and couldn't get a kick.

    Torres all of a sudden scores two goals, one against Madrid which for any other team would never have counted and then takes advantage of Vidic mucking up like a non-league defender, and you come out and tout him effortlessly as the best striker in the world. You think that if he's the best in the PL (which is very doubtful) he must be the best in the world. You, like all your peers, think that the whole world revolves around the Premier League. Well may I let you know that it doesn't. Open your eyes.

    And please do not answer that Torres has been injured and unfit. If a player is injured and unfit how does he qualify even for contender of best striker in the world? Messi was injured for large part of last season also, but I didn't see you complain that Ronaldo was picked for WPOTY, quite the opposite.

    So here we go. No.1, what position is Messi playing in? According to you is he a striker, an attacking midfielder or what? He's scored 30 in 39 btw, 6 in 7 in Europe, from a primarily wide position, let alone assists etc.

    No.2, Eto'o has scored 29 in 37 in all competitions, 25 in 27 in the league. Comparing Eto'o to Torres this season, not only regarding goals but work rate, miles covered, speed, assists etc, is like comparing caviar to cous cous.

    No.3, David Villa has scored 21 in 29, for a side that's way off the pace in its league as well as in Europe. Besides this real chasm in their club form, every time Spain plays, Villa is putting Torres in the shade. His international statistics say 6 goals in 12 last season and SEVEN GOALS IN 6 this season, Torres's record of 3 in 12 and 1 in 5 simply pales into insignificance. In the Euro Villa made Torres look really ordinary and in several games out of sorts. The only reason Torres was shortlisted for WPOTY is that Villa is playing for a lesser club with a huge debt and unable to challenge for honours, a necessity for such awards.

    Conclusion: You either haven't got a clue about world football, or you are biased to the extreme, or you let money and agenda come above your true opinion and influence your pen's by-product. I hope it's not the latter. I am talking with facts, not your type of good looking but totally unfounded blabbering. If Torres is "arguably the world's finest striker", which galaxy do the above live on? If you have any answer and time comment, although I don't really mind if you don't.

  • Comment number 43.

    I think it's a given that Man United will drop more points this season. And the fact that the relegation battle stretches half way up the league and the top half are all going for european places means there are no easy games anymore. The international break however could be just what United need.

    It's quite worrying how poor a season Ronaldo is having. He really doesn't seem that bothered and his performances are having a detrimental affect on the rest of the team. Maybe players can become bigger than the club? Maybe United should've taken the money from Madrid?

    Liverpool have had a fantastic turn around in recent weeks but it's fair to say that none of the top four have had particularly good seasons. The way Chelsea and Liverpool played for the first few months it didn't look like United would get close. Berbatov and Teves are not the right players for United. Teves works hard but has no end product and Berbatov is infuriatingly lazy and with both him and Ronaldo on the pitch it's almost like being down to nine men from the kick-off. I think SAF may well be spending another 30+ million this summer on a striker. Perhaps the little Brazillian down the road would like to wear red next season? A forward three of Robinho, Rooney and Ronaldo would certainly be exciting to watch. One would hope Ronaldo wouldn't have two bad seasons.

    Well done Liverpool for reigniting the championship race. Liverpool do seem to prefer a dog fight. The Anfield boys should've been home and dry by now.

    It's refreshing that there is still so much to play for this season and the whole league is involved in one way or another.

  • Comment number 44.

    Another thing related to O'Neill's crime related interest. When he was playing for Norwich City on a away trip to Sheffield Wednesday, O'Neill and the Norwich Physio, Tim Sheppard, went on a tour of where the Yorkshire Ripper has murdered some of his victims apprarently. He's an interesting fella.

  • Comment number 45.

    interesting expression that one: "having played a game more, admittedly". seem to have heard that quite a lot in the past week or so.

    "the game in hand being at home to Portsmouth admittedly" is not nearly such a popular expression.


    That's because it is a stupid expression. You can only ay that the game in hand is against any particular side if both teams had the same opposition to play.

    The truth is that you look at the two teams run in and United looks the moe difficult. They both play Hull away and Arsenal and Spurs at home. Take those out fo the equation as euqal and that leaves you with:

    Fulham v Liverpool
    Liverpool v Blackburn
    Liverpool v Newcastle
    West Ham v Liverpool
    West Brom v Liverpool

    Man Utd v Aston Villa
    Sunderland v Man Utd
    Man Utd v Portsmouth
    Middlesbrough v Man Utd
    Man Utd v Man City
    Wigan v Man Utd

    Only the Fulham game should really cause Liverpool a headache although the Newcastle and Blackburn games should be close because of the relegation fights. United still have to play Villa and Man City.

  • Comment number 46.

    In the context of the Champions League, of the English clubs the current order of merit list is probably:

    1. Liverpool
    2. Arsenal
    3. Chelsea
    4. Manchester United

    Rather different from a fortnight ago. And who, now, is discounting Porto?

    Wide open, methinks.

  • Comment number 47.


    welcome bk with your impatial views and shortsightedness.

    as for your stats, i wont argue with their accuracy, and ill like to add that all 3 have been in terrific form, but all that screams to me is how poor defensively the spannish league is, which it really is, they have all the striking talent in the world, but cant defend, any spannish team that comes up against a team that has any remote defensive capabilities are going to struggle.

    Your having a laugh with the torres goal against madrid, and a nice little point in reference, 1 of the leagues supposed top defenders, not to mention cannavaro, former WPOTY, were made to look average at best, that 1st goal stood, correctly so, nothing happened to bring down a player with such a stature, n size as pepe, he took a dive because he n the rest of la liga defenders dont come up against any players that even remotely want to stay on their feet or show any sort of upper body strength, when they do, they cry foul. La liga is very pretty to watch, but lacks any type of defensive accumen, barca look amazing, but a huge, huge ammount of that is down to how really bad the entire rest of the league is, its laugable.

    Torres gets shortlisted for the prize because he proves his class in the games that matters.... euro's final, villa limps out injured, torres with a true strikers instinct and on the biggest of stages does the business, and does it where pretty much another striker in a similar positioon would have fluffed it. same goes in the CL, against the biggest sides, not the likes of BATE BORISOV, but against the mighty madrid, terrorising. n the same against united, in the derby game against everton, arsenal, chelsea... the list goes on.

    goals are ofc important, but its the big games, the games titles depend on, cups are won in that a world class striker shows the world what he can do.. scoring goals against malaga for any half decent striker would have a field day.

  • Comment number 48.

    Phil - I have to agree with a lot of comments on here, maybe not the ones that are so malicious but it's true that you tend to swing your opinion every weekend. Of course you have every right to change your opinion but as a football journalist don't you feel that you should remain consistent? One week you're writing about Liverpool being top and looking set to win the league, few weeks later Man Utd have definitely won it and now you're pretty much saying Liverpool look set to take the title, maybe not directly but indirectly you are.
    I don't support a Premiership team but I tipped Utd to win the league again from the start of the season. Liverpool will slip up when the Champions League gets back under way.

  • Comment number 49.

    Have to say it is highly amusing listening to the nervous Manchester United fans... their boasts and false confidence are betrayed by the fact they are very publicly 'having a wobble'.

    Liverpool on the other hand are the epitome of calm at the business end of the season. There is no expectation on us and most decent reds would be impressed with 2nd place. We essentially have nothing to lose and everything to gain... how dangerous this makes us is a matter of opinion.

    In closing, I would suggest United ditch the ridiculous "Champions of the World" tag... it's an embarrassment and only provides comedy for real football fans who know that the competition is less credible than the Carling Cup.

  • Comment number 50.

    Ref no25 poltergiest

    I would not be calling anyone deluded if I were you. After your team were soundly beaten nay thrashed at home by Liverpool your manager had the gall to say he thought his team played better!!! I mean losing 4-1 at home for manu is the equivalent of Nadal getting thrashed in straight sets at the French final. A massacre.

    Now lets just examine what has happened since the infamous rafa "rant". Before that it was unheard of for refs to give a penalty against manu at home. Yet three penalties have been given since the rant against manu if not 4. I am not quite sure. red cards are being dealt to manu players which also rarely happened before. And lo and behold liverpool are actually receiving some penalty shouts in their favor.

    Proof is in the pudding. Man u since have been shown to be rattled and at the moment all things being equal should have been 12 points ahead of liverpool rather than the 1(albeit with a game in hand). I still think manu will pull it out only because of their game in hand. HOwever, come next season I see liverpool comfortably winning both the prem and the champs lague. Rafa is just that great. A true visionary who has now laid out the blueprint for what Liverpool will become in the next five years.

    the glasgow beetroot is already panicking judging by the recent comments coming out of his mouth. Poltergiest if I was you I would once again bury by my head in the sand and let reality pass me by.

  • Comment number 51.

    Im with you Phil, i thought Liverpool had fluffed it against the boro. I still think Utd will win it, but it is going to be an edge of the seat finish to the season deffinately. Im gutted that Villa have now stuttered though, realy wanted them to nick a top 4 spot from Arsenal or Chelsea, but dosent look like thats going to happen now

  • Comment number 52.

    I would love us to win the league but can still see Man Utd winning it! If we did happen to win the league I hope the media/sky would go on and on about fergies rant as they did when Rafa spoke about fergie in his press conference! Fergie attacked Rafa in his press conference last week and though there were stories in the press it was nowhere near the abuse Rafa had to endure, with Rafa its as if its a rant and the bablings of a lunatic! When its fergie its clever mind games, just prroves Rafa's facts that fergie controls almost everything including the press!!

    Also I think fergie got his calculations wrong you should be judged on net spend not just outgoings...he obviously left out the 17m they spent on two teenagers in the january transfer window and maybe he didn't include the 10m to "loan" tevez then the final 32m buying fee for tevez great business that!!

    I've always backed Rafa unlike some lfc fans see they've gone quiet now or just changed there tune please don't be as fickle if we draw a couple of games in future it gives our club a bad name.

  • Comment number 53.

    SAF wanting to play mind games again (LFC to spend millions now etc).. Rafa dont bite... let that old bird sulk.. he has a couple of weeks to do that.. till he can do anything about it on the pitch..

    it still is difficult for us to get the title.. agree.. we have to win the rest of the games.. not easy... but scoring 4 or more goals against MU RM AV didnt seem easy after middlesbrough loss... even an admittedly pessimistic LFC supporter is looking at the season with renewed optimism..

  • Comment number 54.

    Interesting how the next fixtures have Liverpool away to Fulham and Utd at home to Villa. I think Liverpool will do Fulham. Credit where credit is due, Liverpool have been deadly in attack recently and got some great results in the process. But I am more interested in Liverpool V Blackburn at Anfield. Can Liverpool keep up their "mo" in that match. I think that weekend may, just may, be the 1 that gives a significant edge back to Utd

  • Comment number 55.

    Well said Nikos Bg, I raised queries on this particular comment by Phil last week and he decided to ignore it. In doing so, I have since render some of his opinion rather hyperbolic, I understand exaggertion is an essential tool in every journalist's tool box if they are pursuing futher promotion and popularity but rating Torres as the best striker in the world over Eto, Villa and even Pato(admitted that Messi is an attacking midfielder)judging since May 2008 is just blowing it out of proportion.

    My mum use to tell me about a saying that says "comments and word of mouth are like eggs, when you say/drop them you can never mould them back again but Phil I will appreciate if you could admit that you were wrong and just blind folded by Torres ordinary goals against Madrid and UTD.....

  • Comment number 56.

    When the inevitable squad rotation comes and Gerrard and Torres are rested for the CL games, Liverpool will once again drop points against lesser teams. Nothing will change. They're just on a roll and have their pretty much full side to pick, while the truth of their route one play is quietly brushed under the carpet as long as it is working.

    The biggest problem for United is Evra. What has happened to him? He seems to have lost all sense of positioning, wandering around the central positions meaning Evans against Fulham, and Vidic against the scouse gets dragged out of position. Don't know where his head is, but its not in the game at the moment.

    The Rooney red was typically harsh - especially in the light that when Ronaldo had earlier received yet another high, studs-up challenge into his thigh from Pantsil who was already on a yellow, it didn't result in what should have been a standard red.

    Another fine example of consistent refereeing, and sadly another example of Rooney getting frustrated with poor play and petty refereeing; I was foolishly under the belief that a foul should result in the benefit being given to the FOULED side not the defending one, thus allowing for a little leniency in relation to the position of a freekick, at least where extra benefit of position isn't gained. Yes it was hotheaded, but it wasn't deserving of a red card.

    Right now, Liverpool's play is working, where it hasn't and won't against better organised defenses - god hope you if Liverpool have to face Bayern. Also, every decision is going your way so make hay while the sun shines. At the moment, everything that can, is going against United. But all good things end...

  • Comment number 57.

    Weren't you one of the people who crowned ManU as champions a few weeks ago? In fact I think you wrote about how ManU is set for the quint. Now you are backpedalling Phil? I think ManU will win it at the end, but herein lies the problem of you journalists spouting off prematurely about future events (but then again, maybe that is not so unusual huh???)

  • Comment number 58.

    It would be rude to write Utd off after two defeats, yet Liverpool were written off after two draws.

  • Comment number 59.

    re #42 NikosBg & #47 dandolinho

    I think NikosBg does spend quite a bit of time on here just to be negative but on the other hand, I think some just dislike what he says because he isn't England centric in his comments.

    However, I'm intrigued by his post, firstly because it puts a different light on things are secondly because I was looking forward to the response it would inevitably get.

    Having had a quick look through the figures based on up to date league tables, it would seem that goals per game are as follows:-

    Spain 2.95
    Italy 2.46
    England 2.45

    You could put this down to tactics or quality I think. I look at some of the players in this country and I despair at just how schoolboy some of their attempts at defending are, compared to how much cash they fleece out of their clubs. I rarely watch other European league's football so I can't compare it but I don't think it is quite the gulf that someone like 'dandolinho' would have us believe.

    I would be interested to see Phil's comments on NikosBg's post.

    As for the weekend's football, I am disappointed that Chelsea didn't make the most of the Man U mess on Saturday. However, that disappointed is partly helped by laughing at all the pundits who were more than happy to hand the trophy to Man U some weeks ago. 'Experts'? Hmmm. Brown nose's? Not for me to say.

  • Comment number 60.


    Being a Madrid fan, i am suprised you can go so low to praise Eto,o and Messi just to make your point, i suppose you don't want to make a foul of yourself , again, mentioning Raul as a example, your hate for Torres, and Premier league football in general , is very well documented, just moments before Real was demolished at Anfield you were still claiming were a class act, and Liverpool were going to be trashed, just like your ridiculous temp chairman.

    Your arguments are completely absurd, why Barca wants to get rid of "caviar" Eto,o? Villa wasn't playing against Germany when Torres scored the most important goal for Spain in decades, arguably Villa was playing better than Torres before that, but Torres had a hand in Villa's first two goals against Russia.

    Please make yourself a favour, get off from these forums, there are a lot of fascinating blogs in your "MARCA" tabloid, where you can discuss with real connoisseurs of World Football.

  • Comment number 61.

    The Momentum may be with Liverpool, but United still have the advantage. Torres may not have had the best season in terms of goals (NikosBg), but remember that he is the target man too, and his assists stats are probably quite good. Plus you merely are cheer-leading the Spanish league. What about top scorers elsewhere?

    Can Liverpool win? yes, I hope so. Will they? Let's see how things stand in another 3 games' time and I think it may be time to make a call.

  • Comment number 62.

    Am I missing something ? I went to Old Trafford for the Liverpool game and whilst I found it uncomfortable , I don't get this 'great' Liverpool performance . Great result but not a great performance . Yesterday , 5-0 sounds easy enough , but I watched the game and Villa played ok first half and were very unfortunate to be 3 down . What is the change in Liverpool ? 4 penalties in 3 games certainly helps . Opponents getting sent off certainly helps (How many this season ??) . Lousy defending certainly helps . Perhaps Rafa's rant has worked in his favour . Certainly , every decision seems to be going their way at the moment . Football moves in cycles though and I would expect the pendulum to tip back toward United over the next few weeks and true class will deliver the title to Old Trafford for a record equalling 18th time .
    19 years ?

  • Comment number 63.

    NikosBG..........he did say Torres was arguably the best in the world, the fact that you have come on to debate the issue, kind of confirms that the phrase "arguably" was correctly deployed.

  • Comment number 64.

    Liverpool's time wasting tactics with 15 minutes to go yesterday said everyting about their ambition 5.0 up and they start passing from attack right back to their keeper, no wonder Rafa was frustrated. And as for Liverpool's tactics, against ManU and Villa there is a creeping reliance on "hoof ball".

  • Comment number 65.


    You seem to be forgetting Torres has been injured for most of the season, and when he has played, he hasn't been fully fit.

    He showed last season that when he plays most of the season, how deadly of a striker he truly is. Scoring 24 goals in his first Premier League season, a record for a foreigner in his first season in the Premier League.

    The fact of the matter is that when Torres has played when not completely unfit, he has been devastated. There is not one trait Torres lacks as a striker, he has power, pace and a brilliant finish. In addition, he can play as the lone man upfront, a quality that many strikers lack.

    Your arguments for Messi, Eto'o and Villa are all flawed.

    1. Messi is not a striker, so he cannot be compared to Torres.

    2. Eto'o has the luxury of being apart of THE best attack in the world. Spearheading the attack with Henry and Messi either side of him. This eliminates your argument of Torres only playing so well because of him playing in the best side in the world (thus being provided with endless chances), which is pretty funny because I'm sure you wouldn't be calling Liverpool the best side in the world a few weeks ago. It was just a couple of a weeks ago that Liverpool were being labelled as a team who lack any sort of offence, a side incapable of breaking down sides and squandering any chances in front of goal they got.

    The sole reason behind Liverpool looking like the best team in the world is because of Torres' return from injury. This alone proves Torres' unmatched quality. He alone, turned a side people were saying didn't stand a chance of winning the title into, as you claimed, "the top side in the league".

    It was Torres' brilliance that led to Liverpool's hammering of two of the best sides in the world. Against Madrid, a half fit Torres (needing a painkilling injection to even get on the pitch), pretty much destroyed Madrid. He was so much more than just a striker. Chasing the ball down all over the pitch, winning it back for side, then storming forward in attack. He done this endless times against Madrid, which evidently, caused their downfall. Torres' pain was obvious after the match as he was in a heavy ankle brace in his post-match interview. And if it's goals you're talking about, Torres got one and almost got another earlier after making Cannavaro, the best player in Italy's World Cup winning side, a fool with an immaculate turn - and had it not been for the best keeper in the world he would've scored. Against Utd, it was the same; Torres made arguably the best defender in the world a fool, as he proceeded to destroy the 'Untouchables' as he did the 'Galacticos'. Plus, his heavy ankle brace was again pictured post-match at Old Trafford.

    Now going back to your third case for best striker in the world.

    3. David Vila, this man is overrated. I don't like saying that cos I'm a huge admirer of him, have been since his Zaragoza days, but seriously, people have started to presume him the best striker in the world without him really proving himself to that to the extent that Torres has. He is a brilliant striker, not doubt about that, I'm sure any side in the world would snap him up in a second. Your argument about him overshadowing Torres when playing for Spain is ridiculous. Primarily, because Torres scored the winning goal in final, winning Spain Euro 2008. Secondly, because when you're in a strike force, you're not supposed to be looking out for yourself but your partner as well. It's not about you scoring the goals, but about your team winning the game. It wouldn't be possible for BOTH Torres and Villa to scoring endless goals for the nation. Your other argument seems to be that Villa is showing his class in a mediocre side, which is quite stupid if you're comparing him to Torres because when he was playing for At. Madrid he was the sole reason they weren't fighting relegation battles. He was the captain of Madrid at the age of 21, a quality I don't see Villa possessing. That brings me to the point that Torres is younger than Villa - with Torres only turning 25 3 days ago and Villa turning 28 at the end of this year.

    The only thing that Villa has over Torres is the ability to go past players. That's the only thing he has over Torres. Overall, Torres overshadows Villa in ability. Torres is more of a physical presence, he is as fast, he has a better finish, and he can play alone upfront (something Villa cannot do anywhere near as well as Torres).

    You can deny it all you want, but Torres is in fact, the best striker in the world. You just make yourself come across as a bitter (whoever) fan.

  • Comment number 66.

    47. At 09:33am on 23 Mar 2009, dandolinho wrote:


    Mate what are you on about. The guy is having a laugh. He's trying to convince us as he does quite successfully that Torres is the best striker in the world WITH 11 GOALS IN ALL COMPETITIONS come April, including a pretty poor European and international record. A record worse than Ibrahimovic's who's considered pretty useless by the English press. If Torres with 11 goals is currently the world's best striker, then the world of attacking football must be full of cr@p don't you think?

    We've learnt the poem you see. Vidic is the best defender in the PL so he must be the best in the world. Gerrard is the best midfielder in England so he's automatically the best in the world too. What a joke.

  • Comment number 67.


    Ridiculous "Champions of the World" tag? If the Club World Cup is a nothing tournament, and all you had to do was to turn up to win it, why didn't you lot win it last time out? How bad does that make your club then?

    I could atleast understand that sort of tripe if it came from an Arsenal fan or Chelsea fan, but coming from a club that has won nothing in two decades, it seems a little rich berating other clubs' success.

  • Comment number 68.

    If two defeats have not got under 'sir' Alex's skin then why hasn't he had the guts to face the media after games? Instead of them slavering all over him with talk of five trophies and a prosession to the Premier league title, he would have to face questions on selection and his players lack of discipline.

    The media are quick to jump on Wenger and Benitez, when will you have the guts to jump on Fergie Phil?

  • Comment number 69.

    I am a nervous United fan as Liverpool are playing really well. However, it will be interesting to see how Rafa sets up once the CL games start. United just have to concentrate on their own games and not worry about Liverpool as it is still in our hands. I feel Uniteds players have been very complacent since going 7 points in front and hope we can pick up after this international break. Liverpools fans are being very arrogant and disrespectful to United though with their comments and this may come back to haunt them. One thing I have learned in all my years of watching football is never write United off. Just when you think they have gone, they will put a run together. It will be an interesting race and feel there are more twists and turns to go.

  • Comment number 70.

    Why do people always get carried away so easily? Certain sections of the media and fans seem to think Liverpool have won the league already! In the last two games, Liverpool have played against 10 men in both, been given three penalties and conceded one penalty. By contrast, Utd have had three men sent off, given away two penalties and been given one. All probably correct decisions but this won't happen every game will it? Utd have proven time and time again they can overcome these 'blips' while Liverpool have fallen away time and time again. Sure, it may be different this season but I know where my money is.

    p.s. Ronaldo does posture and complain every game, but his is specifically targeted by teams in every game. I don't seem to notice the same venom directed toward Gerrard when he dives.

    p.p.s. You talk about Rooney's temper but at least he only loses it on the pitch. I've never read about him being involved in violent nightclub incidents like Gerrard and Terry but he gets slagged off at every opportunity while Saints Gerrard and Terry can seemingly do no wrong!

  • Comment number 71.

    Lets refer to the home draws as being potential downfalls for us this season. Think of it the other way, had we lost those games, then we would be 8 points off the lead with their game in hand and probably challenging Arsenal and Villa for 4th spot.

    I think the 5-0 demolition has shown other teams that if they come to Anfield and play 4-4-2 and attack us we will simply pick them off with our slick pass and move moves and score at a canter. What teams like West Ham, Fulham, Stoke did was to contain us and defend deep and not give any space. Looking back at it, that is probably the way to play against Liverpool both home and away.

    My message to all teams now is - come and have a go if you think your good enough to beat us.

    I certainly dont begrudge Boro for their 2-0 win over us just a couple of weeks ago. It shows that its their only win in 13 league games home and away. I would also be worried if i was Gareth Southgate that his team appear to raise it for liverpool but cant beat a fellow struggling team.

    There are plenty of positives to take note of though against Villa - one we scored 5, another clean sheet and Torres had an off day - what a scary thought considering only Arsenal are the last remaining "big" team to visit Anfield this season.

    I fully predict us to go close this season and whether teams can raise their game against United and get soemthing from those games, then we could see a title at Anfield.

    Please note that if we do come 2nd this season and lose the league by 4 points that is a massive improvement upon last season.

  • Comment number 72.

    i have to say perhaps more blog should at least be directed at the relegation battle also, lets face it, its as interesting as the title race atm. I'm pleased liverpool are getting the plaudits they deserve for some truely memorable performaces in the past couple of weeks but theres still a lot of football left this season.

    however, we have not lifted any silverware yet this season so understandably noone is getting over confident. man utd need to slip up more and liverpool need to carry on the way they are, this is a tall ask but i have ma fingers, legs and eyes crossed it happens.

  • Comment number 73.

    Nicosbg re your Post 42 - Calm Down !!

    Phil said "...arguably.." and you have proved that an argument can be made for/against a handful of the top strikers in the world - like most debates in football !

  • Comment number 74.

    #56 GenesisRed

    Your comments on Ronaldo and Rooney are so, well, I think we all know what they are. Ronaldo throwing himself at a player and the demanding that the ref comes to him rather than the other way round? Pantsil caught Ronaldo but didn't actually seem to be going in recklessly.

    Rooney, once again, was shown to be the thick, ill-disciplined muppet most of us have him down as. His football can be fantastic but let us not ignore that he has been playing in the Premier League for over six years now and still can't control his temper. At times he is a ridiculous liability and how this is allowed to carry on I assume only money can explain.

    Respect? The FA or whoever should clamp down on the petulance shown by Man U players on Saturday and clamp down hard. We've seen it too often. Still, it's hardly like their manager sets a very good example....

  • Comment number 75.

    this is why the quintuple is unprecendented and so difficult to achieve. We have to get our house in order quick, and get the players perfroming with confidence, deisre and showing the ability they have.

    At the moment we still have an advantage. Possibly the large advantage we had caused complacentcy and the large defeat we then suffered at the hands of liverpool has damaged confidence. Thankfully, we have been here before, many times and i am confident that we will turn this slump around in time to maintain our advantage.

    squeaky bum time is upon us, and the great man loves it more than most

  • Comment number 76.

    .. actually, in addition to my previous comment, i understand why rafa is not bowled over by excitement. except real's hammering, i think the scorelines have flattered liverpool a bit. individual errors at crucial times have turned games on their head. liverpools passing and possession at times has looked average, but theres no question they are taking their chances extremely well!

  • Comment number 77.

    Yes it was hotheaded, but it wasn't deserving of a red card.
    true, it was deserving of a YELLOW, and having already had 1 a few minutes b4 was completely deserved, it was a throw in anger, n tbh, if i was a united fan/player, i would have been just as infuriated, as it is, im am not, and was happy to see the total captiulation infront of my eyes.

    fergies rants are another source of satisfaction too, but arnt being blown out of proprtion like rafa's supposed rant, for which he is being vindicated for now.

    and as for things not going uniteds way... well, after a sketchy ammount of desicions at crucial times in games they wer not playing very well in and should n probably would have dropped points in, its about time these came back to haunt united.

    also, i hear nothing about fergies changes, like you would if rafa made them, questionable desicions to put players in positions they dont fit in, signing berba, who i mentioned when they bought him, does not look like a united player, is too lazy, n doesnt pop up when needed to, like in the big games when u want that money u spent on him to show up, n do the business

  • Comment number 78.

    Fergie has lost the plot. To say his team outperformed Liverpool is a nonsense and unless he wakes up Utd's season and his own reputation will be in tatters.

    His comments before the game were as ill timed. Maybe he should have waited until such time as Utd had actually won a game.

    His team are at breaking point and Ronaldo has not played well all season. This is telling because Utd can only win games when he plays well.

  • Comment number 79.

    I feel obligated to point out amidst all this 'LIVERPOOL FOR THE TITLE' talk that both them and Utd will drop points and although Chelsea missed their chance here, they might not at another point. What's gonna happen to Liverpool if either Torres or Gerrard is injured next week huh? definately a loss of momentum! Man utd have some problems but they are still in charge and I can still see them winning and perhaps they deserve too. Liverpool, apart from my obvious hostility as a Chelsea fan, are a 2 man team whereas Man utd are an 11 man team so should win as the best team. Chelsea have problems too but only because we need different types of players and the players we've bought have underperformed- but there is something about Hiddink that provides a speck of hope... The importance of the Champions League mustn't be forgotten - will Rafa go back to his rotation policy, will they overcome us? if they don't then perhaps they have slightly more chance of winning the epl as they can focus on it. I want to end on this point, a week ago Liverpool had been excluded from the title and look at them now- THIS MIGHT HAPPEN WITH CHELSEA! Now, let’s see what fun the international break brings so we can test Liverpool's endurance

  • Comment number 80.

    post 47 Dandonlinho... How many times did Ronaldo score when it matters before he won the WPOTY award last season.. if not for JT ugly miss, wouldn't Ronaldo's miss have caused united the title..did he score against Barca? no actually he went I think your points are just pretty irrelevant.

    if La Liga's defence is poor, then why haven't utd scored viallreal a single goal in the past 4games they have played within the last two seasons?

    How come liverpool almost lost to athletico at anfield if only not for the worst refreeing decision of all time by awarding Gerrard a penalty for a blatant unprofessional dive...

    We have also seen mid table spanish teams trash mid table English teams, Sevilla beating Boror 4 - 0 Uefa cup final is a good example mate and I could go all day with my points................

  • Comment number 81.


    Firstly I think you'll find that we paid less than 17mil for the 2 players in the summer. I also think you'll find that we haven't signed Tevez yet. Secondly we wouldn't be paying 10mil for the loan and then 32mil to sign him permanently. We have payed 10mil so far for his loan, which if we decide to sign him permanently, will be deducted from the final figure. The final amount payed is reported as being 32mil, but this has never been confirmed by either the club or his agent, so no-one knows the final figure except those involved


  • Comment number 82.

    I think Norway has moved to England I never knew how many Liverpool fans were out there, I can hear them whistling You'll Never Walk alone as they dust off and iron their Crown Paints or Candy tops and convince themselves that they are god like all conquering heros. Fairl play they beat Real, Utd and Villa with massive scorelines but it was happless displays by all three not all conquering football by liverpool. Utd gifted Liverpool 3 goals MAdrid didn't turn up and penalties played a part there as it did against United and Villa and both the later played with 10 men for a large part of the time. Liverpool are not a great team and a couple of good results doesn't alter the fact. There have been no stand out teams in the Premier league this season, Utd haven't gelled, Chelsea have missed Essien as Arsenal have missed Fabregas and Adebayor two teams I would rather watch than Liverpool who for a great percentage of the season have been dire to watch yes they have won but it's Arsenal in the late 80's early 90's all over with Gerrard the shining light not Torres who was impressive against Utd but has done nothing in his second season.

    With reference to kopitedoctor the 7 point lead and +11 goal difference advantage. Last seen 8 days ago is rumoured to be in Morocco with Jim Morrison, Elvis and the title that Liverpool won 19 years ago!

    I didn't hear all this bravardo when you lot got done by Boro, still second rate at least when you don't win anything again this year it'll give the scousers something to moan about which they are the greatest in the country at doing so credit where credit is due you are the champions of whinging!

  • Comment number 83.

    It will only take a loss to take the wind out of Liverpool's sail! And come Champions league QF week, it could be all over on both fronts for the season. Liverpool have just managed to take advantage from set-pieces to score their goals, I make it 4 penalties, 4 free-kicks and 3 long punts from the back in the last three games! Benitez clearly adopting the Wimbledon school of footballing! Utd will get over this loss of form, safe in the knowledge that one slip up from Liverpool will hand the title to them, then we can concentrate on retaining the Champions league trophy.

  • Comment number 84.

    i wasnt saying there is a gulf, but i think that defensively the league is 'poorer' than in england, hence more chances at goal, n more goals.

    i like to watch goals as much as the next lad, but im also into the whole defensive minded play, i enjoy a good tackle or defensive block as much as a killer pass. spain isnt as defensive, and im not knockin the league, but, put torres in that barca team, hell put me in it n ill bang a fair few in, on the other hand, put barca, or messi, eto'o n the likes in this league n i dont think they would score as many. n the prem are no sloaches when it comes to scoring goals.

    dont take me out of context here, i WAS NOT panning the spannish league, i love it, n keep well in touch with the games, they do excite me and also frustate, i cant stand to see, not all the time, but a fair bit, but i cant stand to c lax defending and maybe a reason why the spannish teams come acropper all to often against the better drilled defensively teams, bayren will b a shock, and i think any english team would b too for barca, who ar ethe shining example of a team that can score shed loads of goals, but concede shocking goals. but there are things lacking that put it behind the league in my eyes... nikos may disagree, as may others

  • Comment number 85.

    Another Scouse blog by a supposed journo.

    Liverpool are on a fantasy run. That fantansy will end. March has been kind to you Phil. Let's see about April.

    United will win the league. No kidding about that. We'll get past Villa and then one match at a time. It's a great little window of Internationals. The nightmare is goinna be over.

    Gerrard will fake an injury before England play and get steadily better when the England duty for everybody else gets over.

  • Comment number 86.

    chelsea's chances are lost, hope liverpool win the title tho. Anyone but utd can win the title for all i care!

  • Comment number 87.

    Gerrard is the best midfielder in England so he's automatically the best in the world too. What a joke.

    who hand on heart is possibly better atm, or even on a consistent basis better than gerrard?? i never brought him up, but while u have, who is better. there are great players in that position around the world, but non are close to gerrard, he has proven over and over again how good he trully is. im a massive fan of xavi n iniesta for example, but both of them cannot get close to gerrard

  • Comment number 88.

    This is my first time in the Manchester United Excuse Forum and I must say that I am thoroughly enjoying how Liverpool's recent form is bringing out the very worst in some United fans. I hear arguments that Rooney's second yellow card was 'harsh'?? If you throw a ball down in anger like a fat child not getting their way then that is dissent! Even if you throw it down on the spot its a yellow card so hurling it in the direction of the referee and other players is totally unacceptable. Also, who is complaining about Liverpool's 'route one' goals and how they wouldn't work against better sides? If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it! Talk to Mr Vidic.

    I'd like to go on to comment on a statement made in a post on here about how everything's going against Manchester United...oh don't make me laugh! The one thing that was left down to pure luck this week was the Champions League draw and do not tell me that did not fall in your favour. The rest of your 'misfortune' is down to your own stupid mistakes!

    I'm 99% sure Man United will win the title this year but I think all Liverpool fans can either take encouragement or be angry at the fact that this year it was ours to lose. We did the hard work; the double over Chelsea and United, a good point at the Emirates but we are now paying for our mistakes against Stoke, City, Hull, West Ham and Boro. Let's just pray that United end up paying for theirs.

    But if not, then we'll see you in Rome. We look forward to it.

  • Comment number 89.

    The last week has shown how ridiculous it was to describe this United team as the best ever. They are where they are thanks to scrappy 1-0 wins, lucky late goals, dodgy refereeing decisions, and opposing teams unwilling to try to beat them. If United go on to win this season they will be among the worst champions ever.

  • Comment number 90.

    #70 Bruce_Nose_Best

    Just on the subject of your p.s. and your p.p.s, let's be honest, do you think Ronaldo has the right attitude at the moment? He kept losing the ball but he can't seem to take that. He sees it as an afront if someone gets the better of him. Demanding that the ref goes to him rather than he goes to the ref? Poor form.

    Rooney is an idiot. Wonderful footballer at times, idiot most of the time.

    You talk all you want about Gerrard's hypocrisy when it comes to diving and I would agree. And nevermind what Terry et al may do in nightclubs, because it was not relevant to how Man U stamped their feet on Saturday afternoon.

    It is amazing how certain behaviour seems to go un checked by management and you try to defend it.

  • Comment number 91.

    #69 ericseyebrows2, The Quad Squad 2009!

    Liverpool fans have been arrogant and disrespectful towards United? You, my friend, have been one of the most outspoken wind-up merchants on the Liverpool 606 forum since you went top of the PL. Are you copying your manager? Love to dish it out but can't take it in return? All I can say is 'What goes around, comes around'.

  • Comment number 92.


    I could atleast understand that sort of tripe if it came from an Arsenal fan or Chelsea fan, but coming from a club that has won nothing in two decades, it seems a little rich berating other clubs' success.


    Delighted to educate you son:

    1: In the last 2 decades we have won:

    1 European Cup
    1 Uefa Cup
    1 League Championship
    3 FA Cups
    3 League Cups

    2: The World Club Cup [sic] is a nothing tournament that has been a source of comedy for top clubs for decades. You lot have decided it is now a credible tournament (Good Stretford Enders aside who are suitably embarrassed). Liverpool fielded a reserve side on every occasion we qualified, it was dismissed as an annoyance by Bob Paisley specifically.

    3: You really should think before you type.

    Is it hot in Thailand?

  • Comment number 93.

    Here is an account of the standard of football journalism in this country, the current blogger being a good benchmark:

    King Kev will be Newcastle's saviour because he knows all about what football means to people in Newcastle

    Arsenal didn't win anything because they lack leadership, because Gallas was crying on the pitch and because of dressing room unrest

    Scolari has brought Brazil to Stamford Bridge

    Berbatov has all the ingredients to become a United legend, he's just what they need and he'll tear teams apart

    Liverpool will struggle to make it into the top 4 this season

    Fabregas is the ideal captain for Arsenal

    Ashley Young and Agbolnahor are world class

    Benitez has lost the psychological battle against Ferguson and he should have his mouth shut because he puts psychological pressure on his players which is the reason they don't perform

    Capello is determined to tame Spain, the friendly will show how England measure up

    The Uefa Cup doesn't matter any more, it has become Europe's Carling Cup (which matters by the way)

    Vidic is the best defender in the world, Gerrard the best midfielder in the world, Torres the best striker in the world

    United look unstoppable, they have the most unbelievable squad ever, they've already won the league and will probably win the "quintuple"

    It'll be an all-English CL final easy, Barca's keeper and defense are poor, Real Madrid wouldn't even get into the top half of the Premier League

    Liverpool are thrashing everybody, United may not win the league after all, and it's all because they're thinking about the same "quintuple" which we the press invented to bleed their lead dry

  • Comment number 94.

    15. dhimmi : Because the BBC have a pro-Liverpool bias. For example on the first day of the Champions League this season the Radio Five live team went to Marseille to do a commentary on Liverpool away to Marseille even though the match was covered live on ITV and Chelsea (the previous years runners-up) had an equally attractive game at home to Bordeaux at Stamford Bridge a couple of miles from the BBC HQ.

    I hope the production team enjoyed their jolly to the South of France at the license payers expense. Much more fun than going a couple of miles down the road eh?

    I'm old enough to remember when there was no live football on TV and MOD only showed highlights of 2 games every Saturday - Liverpool were on virtually every week.

    Even now the BBC's two main MOD pundits are ex-Liverpool players, goodness knows how many Liverpool fans there are behind the scenes.

    The BBC have always favoured Liverpool, even over MU, in spite of Liverpool's relative time in the doldrums during the Premiership years.

    Its great to see this Liverpool resurgence, they are a club with a great heritage and their fans create a phenomenal atmosphere at Anfield, especially on European nights, but I dread them winning the league, the BBC will be going on about it for the whole of next season.

  • Comment number 95.

    I really enjoy some of the comments made on this website by the supporters of each club however misguided,makes it fun.You should however only deal in facts as they stand at the moment,the true test of any team is to win the EPL.
    Utd supporters should remember as pointed out by SAF they've squandered leads in the past,sometimes it's very difficult to regain momentum when it's slipping away,which appears to be happening at Old Trafford at the moment.Don't ever take it for granted that 3 pts are in the bag from the game in hand, points on the board are all that count.
    As for Liverpool excuses for injuries which incidentally i can't remember any other club using,and only if we had'nt loss points to teams who we really should have beaten,show a serious lack of squad depth which can only be blamed on the managers inability to buy the right players.I'm just wondering what is going to happen when the Liverpool goal bubble bursts which it will,and they can't buy a goal for love nor money,probably the same thing that has happened to Chelsea since they lost their long unbeaten home record,and Utd's since the defensive record went haywire,it's just the way things allways turn out.
    Judge the season when its finished,and if all you can say is we did the double over Man Utd and Chelsea and the trophy cabinet is once again empty,put the blame firmly at Benita's door because your long standing 18
    EPL titles will have long gone,and he will have presided over it.
    As for Chelsea it's never over till the fat lady sings.

  • Comment number 96.

    Nikos: Torres has 9 goals in 13 premier league starts. One of which he limped off after 20 minutes (Villa). I think that proves that when Torres starts and he's fit, he scores. He has a current goals to minute ratio in the premiership of 1 every 133 minutes. Which is less than one in every 1.5 games.

    Samuel Eto'o does indeed have a better average than Torres, but this is, again, in the Spanish league where the concept is very much on attack rather than the defensive nature of the premier league. Eto'o is also playing in (arguably) the worlds finest team, consisting of players such as Messi, Henry, Xavi, Iniesta, Alves there to set him up. Eto'o scores one in every 89 minutes. 1 in 1 basically.

    It has been proven (unfortunately) this season that without both Torres and Gerrard in the team we are a worse team because of it, and both Torres and Gerrard have only started 9 league games together. With Gerrard being Torres' main provider, this again could be a reason his exceptional goal per minute ratio isn't better.

    Your comments about Torres at International level are also ill-informed. In competitive qualifiers Torres has started two games but only completed 110 minutes of football, admittedly scoring 0 goals, but injuries hampered those opportunities.

  • Comment number 97.

    Have those defending Ronaldo's petulance actually forgot that when he lunged at Murphy, he then arogantly walked away smiling and refused a player's offer of a hand, chosing to fling it away. Utd fans; defend that if you can!

  • Comment number 98.

    God, all this talk of Liverpool or Man Utd for the title ...

    Its why the season is 38 games not 29 or 30. You can't predict whats going to happen in the final twists and turns of this season but you may reflect on the past and enjoy each and every turn of fate as it happens.

    At the start of the season being a Liverpool fan I'd have given my right leg to "compete" in the PL this season ... By compete I mean 2 games left to play and having a mathematical chance of winning. That to me would be success and forward movement. I'm sure Utd fans where more of the opinion that winning to tie up the championships was the only option.

    A few weeks ago with 7+pts and -11 in goal difference I could only see a failed PL campaign. 10 days may have changed that outlook but it won't change the fact that at the start of the season I'd have taken success to be if we're mathematically in it with 2 games left.

    With all you debating on who is going to win the league I ask the simple question of realistically, at the start of the season what would you have taken to read as success?

  • Comment number 99.

    its still fair to aknowledge that its uniteds title to throw away, n it is true that united have the experience having been in similar circumstances b4(arsenal 98, newcastle). but lets not forget that united are not infalable, they have also been here and lost it(arsenal 200?), so most of the hope comes from united being able to loose this lead.

    any sensible liverpool fan at the beginning of the season, myself included, all wanted a 'challenge', none of us thought that we would come from 4th to win the league, n i still dont, but as my early season hopes are concerned, liverpool, so far have achieved what i expected from a team i guenuinly believe is well n trully improving, managed by a man well n trully capable of winning this league sooner rather than later

  • Comment number 100.

    WOW. another article about Liverpool. surprise surprise. there are other stories y'know. can we all have a writer dedicated to our favourite team, or is that only reserved for Liverpool? not even Manyoo, Chelsea or Arsenal. Only Liverpool? how do you justify this please?


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